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Celebrating 10 years: Little-known facts about the University Center

The University Center put on a variety of events to celebrate its 10th anniversary last week. (Natalie Howell/Student Voice)

February 15, 2017

Last week, the University Center on the UW-River Falls campus celebrated being open for 10 years. Birthday cake and other goodies were given away all week, with a lunchtime bingo session topping it all off.

Despite being only a decade old, the UC is full of interesting facts that may not be known to students and the campus community.

  1. The UC was originally going to be an addition to Hagestad Hall.
    Before the UC was the heart of the UWRF campus, Hagestad Hall used to be known as the Student Center. Campus Planner Dale Braun said that food used to be served in Hagestad Hall and in Rodli Hall (then known as David Rodli Commons).
    “This created an east/west divided campus culture based on where people typically ate,” Braun said. “The campus wanted a more unified campus culture and one way to do that was through food.”
  2. The building that used to be where the UC stands was deconstructed, not demolished.
    The Ames Lab School, not to be confused with Jesse H. Ames Suites, used to be where the UC is now. Around 90 percent of the materials were reused or recycled, according to the university’s website. It was one of the first buildings in the state to be deconstructed in such a way.
  3. The Ames building still remains, in some form, within the UC.
    Some of the materials from the Ames building make up the artwork within the UC. One example is the Cup and Commons on the lower level of the building. Created by Peter W. Flanary in 2006, the artwork is composed of many parts, including the large mug and the bronze tables with stone seating nearby. All of the steel and stone used in the Cup and Commons came from the Ames building, according to the university’s website.
  4. The artwork above the Involvement Center fireplace comes from a previous UC anniversary.
    River Fusion, known to some students as “Blue Bacon,” represents the Kinnickinnic River. The fused glass piece was created by Bonnie Rubinstein in 2008 in honor of the UC’s first anniversary. She wanted the piece to represent the importance of sustainability both to UWRF as a whole and within the UC’s design, according to the university’s website.
  5. There is more to the roof of the UC than one might expect.
    The roof of the UC has drains that collect rainwater to be reused. Underground, four collection tanks hold the water. The storm water is then used to flush the urinals and toilets in the building, according to University Center Director Cara Rubis. With a single inch of rainfall, 48,000 gallons of water can be collected.
  6. The UC’s architecture is intentionally different.
    Braun said that the look of the UC does not match the red brick, enclosed look of many of the buildings on campus, which only emphasize two dimensions.
    “Stairwells are usually enclosed and you don’t get a sense of connection between floor levels,” Braun said, “but in the case of the UC, we intentionally created a ‘great hall’ with open stairwells and bridges to engage building users between levels.”
  7. Lighting is one of the biggest sustainability-focused aspects of the building.
    The large windows in the building allow for a lot of natural light to illuminate spaces like Pete’s Creek and the Involvement Center. Braun said that light sensors automatically sense the brightness and adjust the electrical lighting so that only what is needed is used.
    “Some occupants have commented that there is too much daylight, but those on campus occupying interior offices with no windows would be envious of such a condition,” Braun said.
  8. The color scheme in the building has local roots.
    The interior designer purchased a postcard in downtown River Falls and was inspired by the color scheme, which led to the use of natural greens, blues and browns within the UC. The red was added later, according to Braun.
  9. The UC produces a bunch of bagels every day.
    On average, according to Assistant Director of Student Involvement Karyn Wells, 450 bagels are baked each day at Einstein Bros. Bagels.
  10. The flags hanging from the ceiling in the UC have a very specific meaning.
    Upon entering the UC from its main entrance on the first floor, one can look up and see a variety of flags. According to the university’s website, the International Flag Display is updated every semester to reflect the home countries of UWRF students.

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